a bitter melon

Warsaw NATO summit

The NATO summit in Warsaw:

Radio Poland -- NATO must boost its potential for deterrence: Polish president (Jul 8, 2016)

At a conference ahead of the official start of the summit, Duda said: "Here in Warsaw, NATO must prove that it is and will be a lively, strong and reliable alliance for peace, freedom and democracy. In order for it to remain so, it is necessary to significantly strengthen its potential for deterrence and defence."

Obligatory YouTube commentary: We come in peace (shoot to kill, shoot to kill, shoot to kill).

The Guardian -- Nato summit: US says it will deploy 1,000 extra troops to Poland (Jul 8, 2016)

Barack Obama has announced the deployment of 1,000 more US troops to Poland to bolster Nato’s eastern flank, as he said US-European solidarity would not be affected by Brexit. [...]

The US troops will constitute one of Nato’s four multinational combat battalions in eastern Europe intended to reassure the region against the threat of Russian encroachment. The UK is sending 500 soldiers for a battalion based in Estonia, and Canada and Germany will lead two more in Lithuania and Latvia.

Next year, Obama said, a US armoured brigade would also be deployed in Europe with a base in Poland.

Reuters -- NATO takes over U.S.-built missile shield, amid Russian suspicion (Jul 8, 2016)

NATO took command of a U.S.-built missile shield in Europe on Friday after France won assurances that the multi-billion-dollar system would not be under Washington's direct control.

"Today we have decided to declare initial operational capability of the NATO ballistic missile defense system," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference. [...]

The United States switched on the $800 million missile shield base in Romania in May and will break ground on a final site in Poland due to be ready by late 2018, completing the defense line first proposed almost a decade ago. When fully operational, the defensive umbrella will stretch from Greenland to the Azores.

NATO HQ -- Joint NATO-EU Declaration by Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker, Jens Stoltenberg (Jul 8, 2016)

We believe that the time has come to give new impetus and new substance to the NATO-EU strategic partnership.

In consultation with the EU Member States and the NATO Allies, working with, and for the benefit of all, this partnership will take place in the spirit of full mutual openness and in compliance with the decision-making autonomy and procedures of our respective organisations and without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any of our members.

NATO HQ -- Joint statement of the NATO-Georgia Commission at the level of Foreign Ministers (Jul 8, 2016)

At the 2008 Bucharest Summit, Allies agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO with MAP [Membership Action Plan] as an integral part of the process; Allies reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions. We welcome the significant progress realised since 2008. Georgia’s relationship with the Alliance contains all the practical tools to prepare for eventual membership. Allies encourage Georgia to continue making full use of all the opportunities for coming closer to the Alliance offered by the NATO-Georgia Commission, the Annual National Programme, its role as an Enhanced Opportunities Partner, its participation in our Defence Capacity Building Initiative and the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package, as well as the Interoperability Platform.

Russia not amused:

TASS -- Russian senator: NATO demonstrates open aggression on Warsaw summit’s first day (Jul 8, 2016)

The NATO summit’s decisions to deploy battalions in Poland and the Baltic States and make NATO missile defense systems operational can be considered to be an act of aggression against Russia, Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy head of the Russian Federation Council Defense and Security Committee, told journalists. [...]

"NATO decisions made today [on the Warsaw summit’s first day] will have an extremely negative impact on the global situation on the whole," Klintsevich went on to say.

"The summit had been called historical in the West even before it started. Perhaps, it is true: tomorrow we may wake up in a totally different reality," the Russian lawmaker said adding that the NATO summit had raised the degree of tensions almost sky-high without exaggeration.

Really, really not amused:

TASS -- NATO holding summit of deception in Warsaw (Jul 9, 2016)

Chairman of the foreign policy committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, Konstantin Kosachov, has labelled the NATO summit underway in Warsaw 'a summit of deception', as its most vociferous decision has been taken on the grounds of purportedly forged allegations about the 'Russian threat'. [...]

The decisions endorsed by NATO on Friday "have cemented a second wall in Europe after the Berlin one, since all of them proceed from the logic of confrontation of the World War II era."

"In Warsaw, NATO decision-makers could make a choice between the fanning of tensions and detente but there's no one so far at the level of leaders to work for detente," Kosachov wrote. "Too little of the German position can be heard or seen. The same for France and Italy. It's the novices endorsed by the Chaperon who're setting the tune."

Here is Pravda mocking Ukrainian President Poroshenko: -- Ukraine's Poroshenko to teach NATO how to wage war against Russia (Jul 8, 2016)

In his article for The Wall Street Journal, Poroshenko stated that no member of the alliance has the experience of warfare against modern Russian army. According to him, Ukraine has such an experience, although he does not specify where exactly the Ukrainian "victorious" army came across the Russian army.

In contrast to Poroshenko, Georgian Prime Minister Kvirikashvili seems sensitive to Russian concerns, as reported by Judy Dempsey a few weeks ago:

Carnegie Europe -- Georgia’s NATO, EU, and Russia Challenge (Jun 20, 2016)

When I sat down with Kvirikashvili during his recent visit to Berlin to discuss Georgia’s foreign and domestic priorities, he was adamant about one thing: staying the Euro-Atlantic course didn’t exclude having a relationship with Russia.

“We don’t see any alternative for ensuring long-term stability for Georgia to joining this Euro-Atlantic family of countries,” he said. “It’s not only the military dimension that attracts us to this family. There are also common values of democracy and freedom, which incentivize us to continue very important reforms that will transform the country into a European country. Nothing can derail us from this track.” [...]

Kvirikashvili does not support what he called “hostile rhetoric,” which was clearly a reference to Saakashvili’s virulent anti-Russian stance when he was president from 2004 to 2013. “The least we can do is to avoid hostile rhetoric. It is very important to express and communicate messages to Russian politicians that Georgia does not want membership of NATO or reforms [that would make Georgia] an enemy of Russia. We want to restore relations. We want to restore normal relations. And again, for this, we would need to follow our own path.”

Here is Judy Dempsey again, commenting on the French and German position within the Alliance:

Carnegie Europe -- For NATO, Now Comes the Hard Part (Jul 9, 2016)

NATO leaders have their own problems, too: how to maintain the unity of the alliance. This is going to be more important than ever, especially when it comes to Russia. That unity cannot be taken for granted, as French President François Hollande confirmed during the first day of the summit. “NATO has no role at all to be saying what Europe’s relations with Russia should be,” Hollande said. “For France, Russia is not an adversary, not a threat. Russia is a partner which, it is true, may sometimes, and we have seen that in Ukraine, [use] force which we have condemned when it annexed Crimea,” he added.

Needless to say, such comments did not go down well with Poland and the Baltic states, particularly as Hollande’s remarks echoed those by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He had accused NATO of “saber rattling.”

But who cares what Old Europe thinks? The US pursues New Europe:

NPR -- John Kerry Visits Georgia, Ukraine Ahead Of NATO Summit (Jul 6, 2016)

Just ahead of this week's NATO's summit in Poland, Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting two former Soviet republics. Georgia and Ukraine want to work more closely with the Western military alliance. Kerry is trying to reassure them that the U.S. supports their ambitions to become more closely linked with Western Europe.

Outspoken criticism from somewhat tarnished Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.

He questions the Russian threat:

Forbes -- NATO Isn't A Social Club: Montenegro, Georgia, And Ukraine Don't Belong (Jul 8, 2016)

In Georgia Moscow backed separatist-minded territories whose estrangement predated Tbilisi’s independence, but [Putin] did not attempt to swallow the country. In Ukraine he focused his ill attention on heavily ethnic-Russian areas, with no effort to rule over non-Russian areas. He’s done nothing to the Baltic States: the fact that Moscow could overrun them doesn’t mean it has any rational reason to do so. Noted my Cato Institute colleague Emma Ashford, “Russia’s force posture simply doesn’t indicate that it has any intentions on the Baltics.” Putin is no Hitler or Stalin, just a garden variety thug.

... thinks Europe should pay for its own defense:

The Europeans enjoy around eight times the total GDP, devote more than three times as much to military spending, and have about three times the population of Russia. Yet they are running scared, demanding that America, with a smaller economy and population, defend them. The Kremlin probably resounds with laughter over how its smallest maneuver sets off renewed European pleading for bases, deployments, and reassurances from Washington.

... and denounces NATO expansion:

For instance, Montenegro has been invited to join. With a military of precisely 2080 personnel, Podgorica resembles the Duchy of Grand Fenwick in the book The Mouse That Roared. The best that can be said of Montenegro is that it is irrelevant to most everything geopolitically. It neither threatens nor is threatened by anyone. It simply is an international nullity. Which means it is silly to include it in what purports to be a serious military organization, where it will have a say on whether the U.S. and Europe go to war.

Bringing in Montenegro is merely foolish and wasteful. Including Georgia and Ukraine would be reckless and dangerous. In fact, doing so would stand the purpose of the military alliance on its head. Rather than make America safer, adding these states would greatly increase the risk of confrontation with a nuclear-armed power over minimal stakes.

Charles Crawford makes the salient point that war is fucking expensive:

The Telegraph -- The Nato summit might just make Vladimir Putin think again (Jul 8, 2016)

Russia can’t accept anything that leaves the United States as a de facto leader, but it also offers no credible model of modern governance for anyone else. As Moscow burns through its hard-won financial reserves grappling with the oil price fall and Western sanctions, it faces a Nato alliance showing new-found determination to re-invest in sharp-end defence spending and associated troop deployments.

Thus the Warsaw Summit’s message to President Putin: “If you want to play tough, we Nato folks can play tough too. We’re not as confused and divided as we look! Therefore what? Why not get back to all that dull dialogue?”

Moscow won’t like that Nato message, may not believe it, and is likely to carry on probing and provoking as Washington and London come to terms with new leaders. But even President Putin may start to wonder whether such expensive games are really achieving anything worthwhile. Maybe Brexit opens new opportunities for everyone to re-engage round the table on European economic and security architecture?

Cameron puts on a brave face:

BBC News -- Trident: MPs to vote on nuclear weapons system this month (Jul 9, 2016)

MPs will vote on 18 July on renewing the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system, PM David Cameron has said. [...]

"The nuclear deterrent remains essential, in my view, not just to Britain's security but, as our allies have acknowledged here today, to the overall security of the Nato alliance," he said.

Stay safe, y'all.